Four days before the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley on Aug. 16, the Blackwood Quartet will perform a concert remembering The King of Rock 'n' Roll and the gospel music he loved.
The Blackwood Quartet will present "The Gospel Side of Elvis" on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Gem Theatre in Calhoun, Ga. The Blackwoods have a decades-long association with Presley and are uniquely positioned to perform the gospel music he loved.
Here's a look at four of those ties:
* Cecil Blackwood, younger brother of Blackwood founder R.W. Blackwood, was a childhood friend of Presley. They attended Sunday school together and formed their first gospel quartet, "The Songfellas," long before Presley went on to become The King.
* In 1958, Elvis sent a plane to North Carolina to bring the Blackwoods to sing at his mother's funeral.
* Presley is said to have named the Blackwood Brothers as his favorite gospel quartet growing up.
* James Blackwood sang "How Great Thou Art" at Presley's funeral.
The Blackwood Brothers Quartet formed in 1934 with brothers Roy, Doyle and James Blackwood, along with Roy's son R.W. Bill Shaw, and Bill Lyles later joined the group and with James and R.W. Blackwood, the quartet was a guest on several TV shows including "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters," "Hee Haw" and the "Arthur Godfrey Talent Show."
Tragedy struck in 1954 when R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles were killed in a plane crash in Alabama. R.W.'s youngest brother, Cecil Blackwood, joined the group along with the bass singer, J.D. Sumner, and the quartet continued to be a force in gospel music. Cecil Blackwood's son, Mark, joined his family in the quartet in 1986.
In "The Gospel Side of Elvis," the singers perform Presley's personal favorites including "Amazing Grace," "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Crying in the Chapel."
For more information about the Gem's program: 706-625-3132.
› What: The Blackwood Quartet: The Gospel Side of Elvis
› Where: Gem Theatre, 114 N. Wall St., Calhoun, Ga.
› When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12
› Admission: $15 and $25
› Phone: 706-625-3132